The man of the hour, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, has an action packed day ahead. He arrived at North Block, where the finance ministry is housed, shortly before 9 am today and has since left for the Parliament, the iconic briefcase in hand. His Budget speech is scheduled to begin at 11 am. Then, his live interview is slated to begin at 2 pm followed by the post-Budget conference two hours later.
A discussion with the Economic Advisory Council is scheduled for 4.30 pm. Have any questions you'd like to ask him directly? The #AskYourFM talkathon begins at 7 pm, so be ready to start tweeting.
Jaitley has made it something of a habit to break traditions, at least when it comes to the Union Budget-last year he got rid of a separate Railway Budget and advanced the date of presentation to February 1-and is expected to make history again today by delivering his speech in Hindi. So whether the Budget ends up being a people pleaser or not, he is certainly trying to start out on the right note.
So what happens after he delivers the big speech in the Lok Sabha? Here's the chronology of events that follow:
Finance Minister (FM) tables the Budget in the Rajya Sabha
Both Houses of the Parliament allot time for a general discussion on the Budget and the FM replies at the end
Parliament typically goes into recess, during which time the Standing Committees examine the demands of grants of various Ministries/ Departments and make their reports accordingly
Once Departmentally Related Standing Committees submit their respective reports, the Lok Sabha votes on the demand for grants. This is where Jaitley is unusually lucky. Unlike his predecessors, he enjoys the backing of absolute majority in the Lok Sabha and hence is assured of getting things passed without any modifications
All approved demands for grants are consolidated into the Appropriation Bill, which then has to be passed by Parliament before the government can dip into the consolidated fund
Once the Appropriation Bill becomes an Act, the Finance Bill is passed and only then does the budgetary process conclude.
Today's Budget is iconic for one more reason-it is the first one under the new GST regime. We will know what India stands to gain-or lose-in an hour.